One of the major components of our cognitive architecture, working memory, becomes overloaded if more than a few chunks of information are processed simultaneously. For example, we all experience this cognitive overload when trying to keep in memory an unfamiliar telephone number or add two four-digit numbers in the absence of a pen and paper. Similar in nature processing limitations of working memory represent a major factor influencing the effectiveness of human learning and performance, particularly in complex environments that require concurrent performance of multiple tasks. The learner prior domain-specific knowledge structures and associated levels of expertise are considered as means of reducing these limitations and guiding high-level knowledge-based cognitive activities. One of the most important results of studies in human cognition is that the available knowledge is a single most significant learner cognitive characteristic that influences learning and cognitive performance. Understanding the key role of long-term memory knowledge base in our cognition is important to the successful management of cognitive load in multimedia learning.
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Richard E. Mayer